Browns to Watch Week One

This has been a very interesting offseason for the Cleveland Browns. They have hired a new general manager, completely overhauled the roster, brought in Todd Haley to run the offense, and starred in a very popular HBO series, Hard Knocks. All the exposure they have received from the show has created buzz around the city, and nation, that this could be the year the Browns are finally relevant. The Hard Knocks bump is very real. However, as all Clevelanders know, having high expectations in the preseason does not necessarily equate to regular season success. An injury here or there, a drug suspension or a little insider trading is all it takes to derail a young team with grand aspirations. All that being said, there are a few people that I am very eager to watch this Sunday.

Myles Garrett

Myles Garrett has been waiting over a year to finally meet Ben Roesthlisberger. He gets his shot on Sunday, and I am very much looking forward to seeing what he does with the opportunity. Finally, Big Ben could be on the receiving end of unwanted advances. Garrett has looked like an elite pass rusher all offseason, destroying the Eagles and Bills’ offensive lines. Pittsburgh’s line should be a more formidable foe for the second year man. Sacks aren’t the end all be all for the young defensive end though. If he is able to disrupt enough to free up Emmanuel Ogbah, it might be all it takes to stifle the Steelers. Roethlisberger could be in for a long day, especially once he sees the Browns QB RV and starts daydreaming about all the things he could do in it.

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Josh Gordon

Browns fans have been waiting 5 years to see Josh Gordon really get to play in an offense that he has practiced with. If he can stay sober for three more days, they should finally get to see it. The guy is an absolute freak athletically and has the physical traits to be the best wide receiver in the NFL. He might need some time to get back in the swing of things since he missed all of training camp, but hopefully he can show glimpses of his former self against the Steelers. If he does that, it could make Joe Haden look like former self as well.

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Todd Haley

I really wanted to include Tyrod Taylor, Carlos Hyde, and David Njoku to this list but that would require extra work for me, and extra time reading for you. Instead, I’ll tie them all together under Todd Haley. After watching Hue Jackson make horrible calls with a talentless team the last two years, I am very excited to see what an offensive coordinator can do with the likes of Jarvis Landry, Hyde, Njoku, Gordon, and a serviceable quarterback. The Browns have shown they can run in the last 3 preseason games and they will need to do just that in order to get going against Pittsburgh. That will open up the passing game for some of their athletic pass catchers to shine.

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Denzel Ward (Or whoever is covering Antonio Brown)

The All-Pro wideout has torn up the entire NFL but he seems to play particularly well against the Browns. With Jabrill Peppers playing 35 yards off the line of scrimmage, Ward should be able to play Brown tight and know he has reinforcements behind him. I was impressed with the rookie cornerback all preseason. I just hope he can stay healthy and tackle smarter.

This may be a list of the people that I am most interested in watching this Sunday, but I am excited to see all the players and even coaches. Football is back and that is all that matters.

The Genius of Terry Francona

The Cleveland Indians have been a very interesting team this season. They have a couple of MVP candidates, some stud starting pitchers, and one of the best managers in baseball. Recently however, the Tribe has been slumping pretty hard. The offense is stalling out on a regular basis, the starting pitchers have been less efficient, and Jason Kipnis is still on the team.

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Many people are blaming Terry Francona for his loyalty to Kipnis, Cody Allen, and Josh Tomlin.  Those people couldn’t be any more wrong. I believe this is Tito’s finest managing yet. Last season, the Indians were the hottest team in baseball down the stretch, winning 22 in a row in September. What was their prize for this? A first round exit in the playoffs. Regular season hot steaks rarely equate to postseason success.

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This time around, Francona is ensuring that the Indians don’t get too full of themselves by allowing Kipnis to stay in the everyday batting order. Anytime the Tribe starts to make a run, the manager can rest easy knowing that Kip will be grabbing his batting helmet any minute. On the rare occasions that the plan has failed, the veteran manager has had the awareness to slip Allen or Tomlin into the contest to promptly give away the game.

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The theory is that if the Indians get all of their clumsy losing out of the way in September, they should be better prepared for October. In the playoffs, Francona will have the luxury of slipping newly acquired, Josh Donaldson into 3rd base and sliding Jose Ramirez to his natural position of 2nd. Josh Tomlin probably won’t be on the postseason roster and Cody Allen shouldn’t have to pitch in many high leverage situations. Brad Hand and (hopefully) Andrew Miller could carry the load for a couple weeks, much like Allen and Miller did in 2016.

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Regular season wins don’t matter this season, Cleveland isn’t going to catch the Red Sox for the #1 seed and the Twins aren’t going to catch the Tribe in the division. The only real concern I have is the slumping of Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, but all stats and trends lead me to believe that they will return to form soon. The Wahoos are set and are definitely looking ahead to the playoffs rather than concerning themselves with September games. I don’t know if the Tribe will win it all this year, but baseball playoffs are so wacky and they have some major star power so nothing leads me to think that they can’t.

Hard Knocks Spin-Offs

The Browns training camp has provided HBO with some fantastic story lines. Here are some potential Hard Knocks shows that are “rumored” to be in the works.

Bro’in with Brogan– Brogan Roback travels the country in an old conversion van, periodically sleeping in various Wal-Mart parking lots, and going to Planet Fitness to shower. As he goes from town to town, he picks up other athletes and interviews them in his van while vaping. (He goes on to name the vehicle the Vape Van). Episode one includes a trip to Boston where he interviews Gronk and they share in-depth philosophies on life and whatnot*. This is also part nature show, where Brogan just eats a bunch of different flowers during his travels.

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The Wylie Old Historian– Offensive Line Coach, Bob Wylie, talks American history. The first episode is a more in-depth look into why stretching is unnecessary, as proven by soldiers during both World Wars. He also explains how vegetables are stupid because POW’s weren’t fed organic veggies and they were some of the toughest SOB’s around.

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Trade (de)Bate– Carl Nassib and Mychal Kendricks have a friendly debate show on the best practices for saving money and investing in the stock market. Kendricks is forced to do some episodes via Skype for obvious reasons. Special guest Bernie Kosar weighs in with his own investment tips.

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Here is a list of shows that were scrapped early in production:

Dawg Cussin’– Gregg Williams just sits in the Dawg Pound and heckles the players with obscenities. He is particularly fond of belittling Todd Haley and Hue Jackson. The pilot episode received a bounty of laughs, but unfortunately HBO is suspending it for a season.

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Hue’s Jacked Son– Hue Jackson adopts Josh Gordon and gives him awkward code names while Josh works out. Josh periodically disappears for episodes at a time for mysterious health retreats, but always comes back in great shape, ready to go. To prove he doesn’t play favorites, Hue makes sure not to start his new son for the season opener.

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*Sneak Peek at Bro’in with Brogan Pilot Dialogue

Brogan: Sup Bro

Gronk: Bruh

Brogan: Bruuhhhh

Gronk: Sup

Brogan: So like, how’s it goin’

Gronk: Hahaha. yeah man, you?

Brogan: Brooooooo

Gronk: Hahahaha.

Brogan: Dandilion? (Offers Gronk a flower to eat)

Gronk: More like a Pansy. Hahahahaha

Brogan: Totally

To be continued…

 

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